It seems like ZZ Top and their music have been around forever. So, when it was announced they were coming to Dodge Arena, I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to go. I had seen them years ago in Tallahassee Florida on their "Eliminator" tour. By then, they had abandoned Texas for the glitters of California and their videos with the now famous 1933 Ford Coupe were a staple on MTV. For me, they had lost some of their appeal because, after all, a Texas boy wants his Texas band to sing about all things Texas. About all I remember of that concert was they opened with "Got Me Under Pressure" and my ears hurt for days.
Darlene and I danced around whether to go or not for the past several weeks. There was a chance we wouldn't even be in the area as she was trying to get an appointment with her allergy doctor in Victoria. To complete the whole decision part of this story, it should be noted that a dear friend and co-worker was struggling with the same decision on whether to go or not. His wife's sisters might be coming to town but, if we were going, he would go with us. To make a L O N G story short, Darlene wasn't able to get an immediate appointment, his wife decided she wanted to go, tickets were purchased and we all went together.
The show was scheduled to start at 8 pm and there was little information available about who, if anyone, would open. The stage was basically stripped down with only stacks of amps on each sides of the drum kit, which clearly said ZZ Top. Still, we were left to wonder if a local band would perform. Around 8:30, the lights finally dimmed, the crowd came alive and what do I hear? The unmistakable sound of "Got Me Under Pressure". This was different from the first concert. Right away it was evident that Billy Gibbons was on top of his game. The sound was crisp and clear and not overbearing. They immediatley charged into "Waitin' for the Bus" and "Jesus Just Left Chicago". It was obvious they still remembered their roots and they knew they were home in south Texas. From there, they continued the older, Texas based songs with one of my favorites, "Heard it on the X". It was written as their tribute to the old "Border Blaster" radio station run by Wolfman Jack in Acuna. "Nationwide" and Darlene's favorite, "Blue Jean Blues" were only a few of the great old songs they played from their recording days over in Tyler. When Billy started lamenting about all the "Dollar Stores" there were in the area and his shopping trip in one, you just knew it was leading to "Cheap Sunglasses"!
One of the real high points of the concert was when Billy paid tribute to his friend and early mentor, Jimi Hendrix, by playing a scorching version of "Foxy Lady". You would have thought Jimi was resurrected and playing lead guitar!
All the songs from the MTV days followed but this time, I didn't mind as much. This was the ZZ Top I loved listening to during my last years of high school and the years that followed in the military. I remember an interview in the 80's when Frank Beard was asked to describe their brand of music. His reply was "below the waist rock and roll". Maybe that's when I thought they had abandoned their Texas roots. After seeing them live again this past Friday night, I don't think they ever really abandoned their roots at all!